Panasonic ToughBook CF-H1 Mobile Clinical Assistant - Panasonic ToughBook CF-H1

By Riyad Emeran



Our Score:


As already mentioned, the optional docking cradle will charge both the batteries inside the CF-H1, while also charging two spare batteries at the same time. The docking cradle also adds three USB ports - ideal for hooking up a local printer or a keyboard - an Ethernet port, a D-SUB port for connecting to an external monitor and a serial port for any legacy hardware that might need connecting. The clever thing about the docking station is that you could have several spread around a hospital that can be used as and when needed.

As with all ToughBooks, there's no set spec as such, and Panasonic's target customers are likely to want to customise their devices to suit their own needs. The spec that I have in front of me right now will set you back £1,649 excluding VAT, which doesn't seem too bad considering the design and durability of the CF-H1. And as with Panasonic's other ToughBooks, you either need a device like this or you don't.

There has been a lot of talk about bespoke IT hardware for the medical market, but very little in the way real products have arrived. Therefore the CF-H1 is a significant product that combines Panasonic's legendary ToughBook build quality, and Intel's Digital Health vision.


The medical industry relies on technology to store so much data today, so being able to access that data easily and quickly while at a patient's bedside is quite a compelling proposition. Not only does the CF-H1 provide this kind of flexibility, but it wraps it all up in a lightweight (1.5kg), easy to use and very resilient package. Will the ToughBook CF-H1 revolutionise the medical profession? Probably not, but it will certainly make the lives of medical professionals easier.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Performance 8
  • Value 7
  • Features 10
  • Design 9

Martin Leventon

January 29, 2009, 6:57 pm

The question is wether at 2K a machine is will the NHS be able to afford to add some into the IT infrastucture they have. Personally if I had a spare 2k id be buying one myself !


January 29, 2009, 8:00 pm

Oops - just realised I'd worked out the VAT at 17.5 per cent instead of 15. Fixed now - sorry about that!

Yes it does remain to be seen whether the NHS will adopt this kind of device, but I'd be happy to know that my taxes were going into the health service rather than certain other areas. Best not to get me started down this road though :)


January 29, 2009, 8:16 pm

I've tried one out & found them too heavy to balance in your hand whilst on a ward, what did you think Riyad? ps What OS does it have & how much RAM on yours?


January 30, 2009, 1:47 am

@MobyVia - Everyone in the office, myself included, found it really comfortable to use with one hand through the strap at the back. Of course how long you’d want to use it like that is debatable, but I’m assuming that you wouldn’t be holding the thing the whole time you’re with a patient.

The version I had was running XP and only had 1GB of memory, but was still surprisingly nippy. I imagine that anyone thinking about rolling these things out would employ a very lean OS build and then run bespoke apps. Ultimately any hardware is only as good as the software that runs on it.

bar simpspinn

January 30, 2009, 5:19 pm

Just how much were you paid for this - ahem, 'article'?


January 30, 2009, 5:34 pm

We're on 10 per cent commission for every CF-H1 sold in the UK :)

No, seriously, just because it's a little uncommon doesn't mean we've been paid to feature it. We just thought it was something a little more different, and thus interesting, than "just another notebook." And TR has a history of featuring TooughBooks which, we concede, most consumers would never buy.

Dave Manchester

January 31, 2009, 2:21 am

This was a real stab from the past for me.

In 1992 I formed a partnership to design and build such a device as this. At first we were going to use the EO-440 and EO-880 (PenPoint OS) but that was killed by AT&T as soon as we finished writing the proposal (for a nursing home).

The target device would be a tablet PC, wireless, lan connected, and have a bar code reader. It would also have had fax and voicemail. We had in mind using it on medicine carts in convalescent and nursing homes.

We actually went to many trade shows looking for equivalent functionality to the discontinued EO pc's. Our final proposal included the Dauphin DTR-1 with MS Windows for Pen extensions, PenOP for signature authentication, with PowerBuilder generated applications on a Novell Network.

Alas, our Client had nowhere near the amount of money to fund the pilot project (and I learned a valuable lesson about doing proposals on spec). On the upside, we learned a lot about the state of the art circa 1992-1996. Also, many of the features we demanded and communicated to vendors started to appear around 1996-99 with the initial iterations of PDA's from Palm and others.

Sigh. It just doesn't pay to be too far ahead of Your time without Angel Investors. It's been 17 years, and here is this fine machine.

Good Job Panasonic!

- David C. Manchester



January 31, 2009, 8:34 pm

@bar simpspinn - And there I was thinking that a fully rugged touch screen device with unique features like integrated RFID and wireless smartcard security might be of interest to some people. I'm glad you pointed out the error in my thinking, what would I do without you. Strangely though, my bank account doesn't seem to have grown since publication - do you think I should contact someone about that?

@Dave Manchester - I've spoken to a few people over the years who had great ideas, but simply couldn't find the backing to implement them. It's a frustrating situation, especially when you have to watch someone else bring something similar to market. That said, I think the only reason that Panasonic has gone down this route is because it has already carved such a strong niche for itself with its ToughBooks, that it can carry that reputation and knowhow across, while also making use of existing manufacturing facilities.

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